Boarding a bus early Saturday morning, members of various Christian Reformed churches from Ottawa spent the day learning how God is at work in Montreal, Quebec. On April 1, 34 members from Ottawa and Montreal-area Christian Reformed churches participated in a ministry crawl, visiting four area ministries supported by their congregations. When thinking of new ways to connect their congregations to work being done in Montreal, the Home Missions committee from Classis Eastern Canada decided to open the tour to everyone.
"We thought it would be a good opportunity for people to learn firsthand," explained Sheila Murphy, Outreach Ministry Developer for Classis Eastern Canada. They visited Ministry to Seafarers, a CRC ministry that connects with seafarers who come through the Port of Montreal, and three ministries run by Christian Direction—Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Ville Marie, and Ville Saint-Laurent—all supported by Mission Montreal.
Mission Montreal is a partnership where ministries of the Christian Reformed Church have come alongside Christian Direction to learn together as they build missional communities in the urban setting. Last year, board representatives from the CRC partner organizations also had the opportunity to tour the Mission Montreal centers.
Chad Polito, Director of Ministries at Ville Saint-Laurent, was happy to show attendees the programs they offer with the support of Mission Montreal. At Ville-Marie, they started an ALPHA program in French. At Ville-Saint-Laurent and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, youth work together to start and manage micro-enterprises. As part of the program, they learn to save and tithe. They have hosted dinners for newcomers and started community kitchens. With the support of CRC ministries, Christian Direction has been able to develop deeper roots in Montreal and extend their reach through many other programs and community events, training over 300 church leaders and starting many new missional communities. Along with financial support, they have built capacity through the sharing of resources such as joint training for Muslim ministry in which 250 church leaders were better equipped to be welcoming to newcomers.
"It's been a real blessing for me to work with the CRC," said Polito, describing the cross-fertilization that is happening because of these partnerships. Those who attended the ministry crawl were impressed with how much is happening in Montreal and inspired to find out how they can be involved.